Until now, Radio.com has been a bit of a laggard as a streaming audio portal.
Created by CBS Radio as a home for its stations and select outside partners, including WDST-FM 100.1 “Radio Woodstock” in Woodstock, N.Y., it never reached the consumer awareness level and widespread ubiquity of iHeartRadio‘s eponymous App.
Advertisers haven’t been flocking to CBS Radio, either: Aside from Miami Lakes Auto Mall, users in South Florida regularly heard promos for CBS Television programs. WDST shifted to the iHeartRadio platform in the last year.
Meanwhile, TuneIn has emerged as a major go-to point for audio streaming. It can be found on Roku devices and in gym equipment. Hotel rooms often have TuneIn as the only way to listen to local radio.
Now, Entercom is doubling down on its ownership of Radio.com by yanking its stations from TuneIn.
The move will make Radio.com the exclusive home of all Entercom radio station audio streams.
In an internal memo sent to all Entercom staff on June 25, Entercom President/CEO David Field said he was “pleased” to make the announcement.
During July and August, Entercom will begin to remove its stations from TuneIn. This is being done, Field said, “to drive all digital listening of our outstanding stations, shows, and personalities to our own Radio.com platform.”
The transition dates are July 6 for the legacy Entercom stations, and August 1 for the legacy CBS stations.
Field told employees, “One of the benefits of our scale and the quality of our brands and content is the ability to compete effectively in the rapidly growing digital audio sector. As the nation’s No. 1 creator of live, original, local audio content with a lineup of 235 outstanding stations, and the country’s unrivaled leader in news and sports radio, we have assets no other company can match and an enviable reach of over 112 million listeners per month — plus tens of millions more on our digital and social platforms.”
That said, Entercom wants to protect its assets. This, it appears, includes prohibiting TuneIn from pocketing any dollars from pre-roll prior to any station streams from an Entercom AM or FM. This is in addition to any payments to TuneIn for hosting any Entercom station.
Entercom has a tall task ahead, but Field is confident Radio.com can become as commonplace as iHeartRadio.
“We are committed to making Radio.com a leader in the digital audio space,” he said. “We have added a number of highly talented leaders to our team to help lead the charge. Over the next several months, we will be rolling out new product features, distribution partners, advanced advertising products, and other improvements to enrich the user experience and enhance our value to customers. Our goal is to make Radio.com a daily habit for many millions of Americans.”
Yet, “radio” is not a habit for many Americans, with podcasts and audio streaming via Pandora and Spotify part of the new audio consumption paradigm.
Promotional efforts for Radio.com will start on Entercom’s own stations.
Field said, “Beginning this week, we will be significantly ramping up our efforts to drive our listeners and others to download and use Radio.com, particularly those who have been enjoying our local brands on TuneIn.”
He added that Entercom is “fortunate” to own Radio.com and believes it is “an outstanding brand name to build around.”
In order to elevate consumer awareness of Radio.com and drive downloads, Entercom will be increasing our on-air and off-air promotion of the brand. This includes identifying all stations on-air as “a Radio.com station.”
Univision Radio does this to promote its “Uforia” brand; SBS notes on its stations that LaMusica.com is the online home for what listeners are hearing on the FM dial.
“This is an exciting day for Entercom as we take a big step forward to becoming a leading player in digital audio,” Field said.
And, he believes, “Once again, we are playing offense.”
Field concludes, “With our No. 1 position in creating outstanding, proprietary local audio content, we are well positioned for success.”